If you drop in on a photography critique you might hear a mantra repeated over and over, a directive to simplify a composition. Photography is the art of exclusion, or leaving out of the frame things that are not important to tell that story.
It is the reason that advertising images are careful orchestrated and artfully retouched to remove any distracting objects that dilute that campaign’s message. And also the reason that a lot of catalog photography is done on completely white or simplified backgrounds.
But rules are not universal and there are reasons to add things to a composition. Context is very powerful, and when photographing events like conferences, lectures, banquets, etc I try to give my images depth by showing the subject in the context of the event.
Finding a better angle by showing more members of the audience.
Conferences are often held in larger rooms so audience members can have empty seats around them and more comfortably set up their computers, notebooks, coffee cups, etc. The two images above were shot within a minute of each other — I shot the image on the right first and then worked to find a better angle.
The more useful image to my client shows that the event had a healthy turnout and because of that the discussions were more vibrant.
Photographs of the speaker also have more depth when we see at least a hint of the audience. It no longer is a solitary person standing at a podium, they are now in a room filled with an attentive audience.
These sort of events will often include breakout sessions, or a break for lunch or coffee. This is another chance to show people interacting.
Fred Ritter taking an opportunity to work outdoors.
Right now in Philadelphia we are “enjoying” an Excessive Heat Warning, but a few weeks ago the weather was much more comfortable and I was able to meet Fred Ritter, of SWELL, for a short portrait shoot outdoors in University City.
We wanted to match the feel of photographs I had done earlier of SWELL’s Principal, Greg O’Loughlin.
Greg O’Loughlin, SWELL.
The images needed to feel relaxed and speak to the fact that both Greg and Fred spend much of their time out of the office meeting and working with their clients. In the interest of keeping with that theme but not being too strictly tied to it, we decided to avoid coffee shops and shoot outdoors.
A relaxed outdoor portrait is a great choice for a website’s bio page.
Taking advantage of open shade to control the light falling on Fred, I was able to find three distinct locations within one block of each other and work efficiently with a minimal amount of equipment.
Props can give a photograph a feeling of purpose.
SWELL is working on a new website slated to launch later this summer. I am looking forward to seeing the new site’s design and their use of my images.
Alfio and his Caesar salad.
Is it common for most people to think their Dad as a rock star? Mine definitely has earned that status in his industry.
My father’s restaurant career spans five decades and two separate countries. When he first set foot in a Philadelphia dining room he didn’t speak the language and was starting again at the very bottom, as a bus boy. By the time he officially retired and closed the doors of the restaurant in Glenside that bore his name, there were a lot of regulars and friends that knew they would miss his table-side showmanship.
But my father is part of a generation that doesn’t seem to know the meaning of retirement.
I can’t be sure whose idea it was. Maybe it was my sister who asked, maybe it was my father who offered, but I can be very sure that he signed on more than willingly to appear at my sister’s shop twice a month and bring his Caesar salad show.
The Caesar salad experience includes Alfio’s show.
Alfio’s Caesar salad was the winner of the Philadelphia Magazine’s Best of Philly award for years not just because my father was one of a few that continued making the salad following the original recipe, but because of his table-side showmanship. His routine always included lots of playful banter, a bit of pepper mill juggling, sleight of hand, jokes, lots of charm. . . and an exceedingly large custom made wooden salad bowl.
I brought Dad into the studio to make some promotional photographs for my sister’s store, and had him make his salad while I photographed some of the steps. There are lots of image options she can use for social media.
It’s definitely worth short ride for anyone living in the Philadelphia area to come get some Caesar salad, meet the man, and taste what a Caesar salad should be.
Alfio is at Ana’s Corner Shop on the last Friday and Saturday of every month from 11AM to 7PM.
3310 North Wales Road , East Norriton, Pennsylvania 19403
My alternate vision of smart eyewear before Google Glass.
A few weeks ago The Verge got a hands on preview of what the first shipping version of Google Glass actually looks like – the shocking bit is that it doesn’t really look like a pair of eye glasses.
(I really recommend checking out the video that’s part of The Verge’s website, Glass seems to work just like promised.)
Another shocker is that this first version does not support corrective lenses. If you wear glasses already, you can’t use Google’s eyeglasses at the moment.
Wearable computers and eyeglasses that enhance your perception of the world around you are not Google’s invention, nor are they a new idea. Wearable devices have been the next thing for years, but it looks like finally the idea and technology will converge with the present. There are a few smart watches in the market right now, and the rumor mill is going being stirred up into a frenzy about Apple having a pseudo wristwatch device in the works. Between Apple’s probably entry (whatever it might be) and Google Glass, 2013 is for sure when wearable devices go mainstream.
A few years ago I was inspired by Wired Magazine’s excellent feature, FOUND: Artifacts from the Future, that at the back of each issue prints a photoillustration of a futurist product in an every day setting. The very first idea I wanted to tackle was (of course) smart eye glasses. Apparently the Google’s designers were not as bound by the convention of traditional eyewear.
Years ago I found some advice online about attaching a strap to a camera that makes it virtually impossible for the strap to come off, I have been attaching my camera straps this way for at least six years and I wouldn’t dream of doing it any different. I had to reattach a strap to one of my cameras because Canon repair prefers if you remove any accessories when you send gear in for repair, and I figured it was a good time to share this technique.
I prefer the Domke Gripper strap because they are small, grippy, don’t get tangled, and have a simple design. This technique should work with any strap that has an adjustable plastic buckle.
Domke strap attached with the “never fail” technique.
First unravel the end of the strap. The Domke straps have two rubbery keeper loops and an adjustable plastic buckle.
Pass the end of the strap through your camera’s eyelet, then through the keeper loop.
Then pass the end of the strap through the buckle as normal.
Next the end of the strap can (optionally) go through the keeper loop on the inside of the strap.
In the next step we thread the strap end back through both parts of the buckle. This is what secures the strap and keeps it from working itself loose.
Next is what I consider to be double insurance. It’s a bit tricky, but if you hold down the end of the strap with your thumb, you should be able to force the rubber keeper loop toward the buckle and over the strap end.
Et voilà! This strap will not work itself loose.